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Probabilistic Reliability Modeling for Oil Exploration & Production (E&P) Facilities in the Tallgrass Prairie Preserve

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The aging domestic oil production infrastructure represents a high risk to the environment because of the type of fluids being handled (oil and brine) and the potential for accidental release of these fluids into sensitive ecosystems. Currently, there is not a quantitative risk model directly applicable to onshore oil exploration and production (E&P) facilities. We report on a probabilistic reliability model created for onshore exploration and production (E&P) facilities. Reliability theory, failure modes and effects analysis (FMEA), and event trees were used to develop the model estimates of the failure probability of typical oil production equipment. Monte Carlo simulation was used to translate uncertainty in input parameter values to uncertainty in the model output. The predicted failure rates were calibrated to available failure rate information by adjusting probability density function parameters used as random variates in the Monte Carlo simulations. The mean and standard deviation of normal variate distributions from which the Weibull distribution characteristic life was chosen were used as adjustable parameters in the model calibration. The model was applied to oil production leases in the Tallgrass Prairie Preserve, Oklahoma. We present the estimated failure probability due to the combination of the most significant failure modes associated with each type of equipment (pumps, tanks, and pipes). The results show that the estimated probability of failure for tanks is about the same as that for pipes, but that pumps have much lower failure probability. The model can provide necessary equipment reliability information for proactive risk management at the lease level by providing quantitative information to base allocation of maintenance resources to high-risk equipment that will minimize both lost production and ecosystem damage.

Keywords: Equipment failure; Monte Carlo simulation; oil production; probabilistic analysis; reliability

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 2007-10-01

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